Here’s what to expect for energy drinks in 2024:
- Sports and eSports targeting
- Expansion in flavor offerings
- Natural, healthy, and plant-based
As the demand for energy drinks grows, brands are innovating with flavors, healthier ingredients, and new positionings to appeal to a broader consumer base. Check out the 2024 energy drink trends you should know.
Here’s what to expect for energy drinks in 2024:
Energy drinks are the most popular functional beverages in the market, with the category showing high growth globally. While energy drinks have traditionally been marketed to a relatively narrow segment of consumers—i.e., teenagers and young adults—energy drinks are evolving and diversifying to meet more needs.
The promise of increased physical and mental energy is widely appealing, and brands know it. Key changes in ingredients and nutrition allow beverage brands to target new consumer segments and fundamentally change how consumers perceive energy drinks. Though the major brands continue to lead with caffeine, taurine, and B vitamins, several changes are underway in the category.
Take a look at the most important energy drink trends for 2024:
Energy drinks are a favorite pre-workout beverage for active lifestyle and sports performance consumers seeking to optimize their workout. Now brands are adding amino acids to make their energy drinks even more appealing to this crowd.
Recent launches taking this sports nutrition approach include Zoa Strawberry Watermelon Energy Drink with BCAAs (US) and Ajinomoto Amino Vital Muscat Flavored Energy Drink with alanine and proline (Japan). In the US, 35% of men and 27% of women ages 18-34 say they’ve had a fitness energy drink during the past three months.1
Fruit flavors lead in recent US energy drink launches, with a wide diversity that includes flavors from the berry/summer fruit, orchard fruit, superfruit, melon, and citrus subcategories.2 In terms of new launches, the fastest-growing flavors in energy drinks right now are strawberry, lemonade, orange, and pineapple.3
Brands are also reaching for new flavors and flavor blends to keep things exciting for consumers. Recent flavor innovations in energy drinks include Rockstar Refresh in watermelon kiwi (US), Red Bull in juneberry (UK), and Yula Amazonian in mango and chili (Spain).
As more consumers seek to reduce their sugar intake, energy drink brands are responding. Reducing or eliminating sugar addresses the need for healthier options in the category, which can appeal to sports performance consumers, as well as anyone watching their weight. Nearly one in four US consumers say a low, no, or reduced sugar claim influences their purchasing decision for energy drinks.4
Sugar-free varieties may have the broadest appeal. Market leaders Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar are all offering sugar-free versions now, indicating an exciting direction for energy drinks. While one in six US consumers have had a sugar-free energy drink in the past three months, for those aged 18-34, it’s about one in three.5
A shift toward natural and plant-based is another aspect tied to consumers’ growing interest in cleaner products. When purchasing an energy drink, 26% of US consumers say they’re influenced by “natural” and “made with real ingredients” claims, while 23% consider claims of “no artificial flavors or colors.”6
Formulating with plant-based energy ingredients is the latest strategy to achieve a more natural label—and experience. 1st Phorm energy drinks, for example, emphasize their “natural caffeine for a smooth, crash-free energy.” Natural, plant-based sources of caffeine, such as green coffee, green tea extract, and yerba mate, are increasingly being combined with other botanical energizers like ginseng, guarana, and Rhodiola rosea.
Gamer energy drinks are a niche but rapidly growing segment of the energy drink market, with younger generations as the target consumers. 13% of women and 30% of men between ages 18 and 34 have had a gamer energy drink in the prior three months.7 Building authentic relationships with the gaming community and formulating for gamers’ unique needs are the keys to success in this segment.
The latest energy drinks for gamers contain functional ingredients associated with improved focus and reaction time, as well as vision and cognitive support. Besides caffeine, these energy drinks may include lutein, choline, Bacopa monnieri, sage, and L-theanine. Low or no sugar is important in these products to prevent crashing during gaming.
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As energy drink brands keep the innovations flowing in response to consumer trends, expect 2024 to be an exciting time for the category. More diverse flavors, sports and eSports positioning, and natural, plant-based ingredients are all smart strategies to appeal to more consumers and expand the reach of energy drinks.
Glanbia Nutritionals has a long tradition of supporting sports nutrition and energy brands with our functional beverage solutions—including vitamins and minerals, proteins and amino acids, bioactive ingredients, custom premix solutions, and much more.
Contact us to learn how our world-class ingredients and category expertise can take your energy drinks and functional beverages to the next level.
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